Tuesday, July 30, 2013

"The Wishing Hill"

Holly Robinson is an award-winning journalist whose work appears regularly in national venues such as Better Homes and Gardens, Family Circle, Huffington Post, Ladies’ Home Journal, More, Open Salon, and Parents. She also works as a ghost writer on celebrity memoirs, education texts, and health books. Her first book, The Gerbil Farmer’s Daughter: A Memoir, was named a Target Breakout Book. Her first novel, Sleeping Tigers, was named a 2011 Book of the Year Finalist by ForeWord Reviews and was more recently listed as a Semifinalist 2012 Best Indie Book by Kindle Book Review. She holds a B.A. in biology from Clark University and an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Robinson applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, The Wishing Hill, and reported the following:
Shortly after my dad died, my mother moved to an apartment just two blocks from my house and I assumed responsibility for getting her settled as she mourned her loss. Though my mom is, thankfully, still in good health even in her early eighties, this event inspired me to write my new novel, The Wishing Hill. Checking out page 69 highlights one of the main themes threading through the novel, which is that becoming a caretaker for an aging parent can stir up an emotional tsunami of grief, irritation, rebellion, joy, disappointment—you name it.

The novel's main character, Juliet Clark, gave up her life in California to follow the man she loved to Mexico and pursue her dream of being an artist. When her brother asks her to come home to wintery New England and care for their ailing mother, a flamboyant actress, Juliet hesitates. She and her self-absorbed mother, Desiree, have always clashed. Plus, nobody back home knows about her divorce—or the fact that she’s pregnant and her ex-husband is not the father. Juliet intends to get her mother back on her feet and return to Mexico fast, but instead she's drawn into a a long-running feud between her mother and a reclusive neighbor. Little does she know that these relationships hold the key to shocking secrets about her family and herself that have been hiding in plain sight.…

On page 69, Juliet has come home from Mexico and is visiting her mother at the nursing home where Desiree is recovering from hip surgery. During this scene, Desiree chides Juliet for feeling sad about her marriage breaking up, then has a fit when Juliet says that she has called a contractor to renovate the house to make it more accessible to Desiree as she ages. The tensions between them are plain in this bit of dialogue:
“You've gained weight,” Desiree observed, cocking her head at Juliet. “Stress eating since he left you?”

“Probably.” Juliet crossed her arms in front of the borrowed sweater.

“I don't imagine you can help it,” Desiree said. “It's lucky you can eat, of course. When I lost my first love, Buddy, I couldn't choke down a thing. Everyone kept telling me I should be a model—I was that thin. I'm sure I would have faded to nothing if your father hadn't come along to distract me.”

“You look good now.”

“That's because I make an effort. The difference between looking good and letting yourself go is really just a matter of ten minutes a day devoted to skin care and a little willpower about what you put in your mouth.”
Learn more about the book and author at Holly Robinson's website.

--Marshal Zeringue